Boston One Fund hits $29 million, but can't make victims 'whole'

The administrator of the Boston One Fund to help the victims of the marathon bombings says that he's going to have to make tough decisions – and not everyone will get what they need.

Yoon S. Byun / Pool / The Boston Globe / AP
Administrator Kenneth Feinberg delivers an opening statement at The One Fund town hall meeting at the Boston Public Library, Monday, May 6. The town hall solicited feedback from the public and outlined how initial funds would be distributed at the end of June

The administrator of a fund for victims of the Boston Marathon bombings is warning that, although One Fund Boston is generously endowed, it doesn’t appear set to cover all the costs for those who were injured or lost loved ones in the tragedy.

Kenneth Feinberg, the attorney who is administering the account, met with victims Monday and Tuesday after releasing a draft proposal for how the funds should be distributed.

So far One Fund Boston has raised $29 million.

Mr. Feinberg described the process as inherently controversial, and said that even large amounts of money can’t make victims feel they are being “made whole.”

"I've learned over the years ... [that] money is a pretty poor substitute for what you are going through," Feinberg told scores of victims and family members who gathered for the hearing Monday night. "If you had a billion dollars you could not have enough money to deal with all of the problems that ought to be addressed by these attacks."

A draft proposal would distribute money based on the severity of impacts, with the largest amounts going to families of people killed in the attacks as well as those who lost multiple limbs or have been diagnosed with permanent brain damage. On the next rung would be those who lost a single limb, followed by a category including those injured badly enough to be hospitalized for a night or more.

With the fund having $29 million paid or pledged as of Monday, Feinberg said the largest awards to individuals or families would total as much as $1 million or more from the fund.

He offered an estimate that 15 to 20 people had lost limbs in the attack.

The fund was set up, after the April 15 terrorist attack, by Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick and Boston Mayor Thomas Menino, with backing from local corporations. Feinberg is an attorney who has overseen distributions from other victims funds in the past – notably after the 9/11 attacks and the BP oil spill.

Feinberg said he was struck by the generosity of those who pledged money to the fund, noting that similar funds for the victims of the shootings at Virginia Tech, Aurora, Colo., and Newtown, Conn., were far less.

As administrator, he’ll face tough decisions about precisely how to divvy up the funds, including whether people who suffered relatively light injuries should be compensated, and whether the payouts should hinge partly on whether victims have other resources, such as insurance, to cover their costs.

By official estimates, more than 260 people were injured in the two finish-line bomb blasts on April 15, and three were killed. A few days later, one police officer was killed and another severely injured during a manhunt for the alleged bombers.

Material from The Associated Press was used in this story.

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